Troubleshooting and Maintaining a Car’s Electrical System

A car’s electrical system is an extremely important component and is relied on for the smooth operation of any vehicle. Unfortunately, many car owners tend to neglect their electrical systems because they’re not as obviously in need of maintenance and regular care as the car’s moving parts. In reality, however, any car owner can benefit greatly from being aware of what comprises a car’s electrical system and what can be done to keep it running smoothly.

Parts of a Car’s Electrical System

There are several key components that make up a car’s electrical system. The battery, alternator, and starter are the three main parts of any vehicle’s electrical system; all three of these parts work together to start a car and keep it running. The starter and the alternator specifically draw power from the battery to start the engine. If even one part of the electrical system isn’t working properly, the entire vehicle may be unable to start.

Signs It’s Time for Electrical Service

There are many signs that vehicle owners may run into that can indicate that it’s time to bring a car into an auto repair shop in the Longmont area for service. The most common sign of electrical trouble is a vehicle that will not start at all. Often times, this is the sign of a bad battery. If jumping the battery doesn’t work, however, the problem could lie within the starter or alternator.

Another common sign that it’s time for electrical service is when a car’s lights start flickering or won’t fully illuminate when the car is turned on. This could refer to lights on the dashboard not properly working, or even headlights going dim inexplicably.

Electrical System Maintenance Tips

To better maintain a car’s electrical system, there are a few tips that car owners can take that are quite simple. For example, taking the time to clean off the connections on a battery from time to time can help a prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the car’s starter. Furthermore, having a car’s electrical system completely tested every couple of years is a great way to find and repair problems while they’re still small and inexpensive.

By keeping this information in mind, any car owner can keep their car’s electrical system running smoothly. As a result, they an experience fewer breakdowns and potentially save money on repair costs as well.

When Do Drivers Schedule Car Inspections in Colorado?

By arranging car inspections at local repair shops, Colorado motorists can correct mechanical problems before they cause breakdowns or accidents. This enhances safety and usually reduces maintenance costs. It can also help a person evaluate the condition of a used vehicle he or she wants to buy. Drivers in the Centennial State often plan inspections before long trips or hazardous weather.

Winter Car Inspections

Some motorists have their cars inspected in October or November. This confirms vehicles are ready for the harsh conditions they will face during Colorado’s lengthy winter. It also prevents breakdowns from happening in cold weather; frigid temperatures can make them far more dangerous. Brighton, Colorado’s local government urges residents to have automotive batteries tested before winter begins.

Buying A Used Car – Car Inspection

Although it slightly increases the cost of acquiring a used vehicle, a car inspection may help the buyer avoid an unreliable auto. Major shopping and car magazines urge drivers to schedule inspections before they make purchases. Colorado’s state government advises that this service holds even greater importance when people buy “as is” vehicles. An inspection is more likely to provide valuable information if the motorist chooses an experienced, trustworthy mechanic.

Car Inspection before Traveling

Drivers face greater risks when they take lengthy trips across Colorado or the United States. Long-distance journeys and highway speeds put extra stress on automotive components. Breakdowns can disrupt entire trips by causing people to miss flights, trains or hotel reservations. This is why some motorists arrange car inspections before they travel. A driver can schedule any necessary repairs prior to departure and increase the likelihood of a smooth trip.

Car Inspection before Service

Motorists may request full inspections when their vehicles undergo repairs or standard maintenance. Many people prefer the efficiency of this approach. Rather than scheduling separate appointments, they can have vehicles inspected when they already plan to visit the repair shop. For example, oil changes and tire replacements provide convenient opportunities for mechanics to thoroughly inspect a car.

Colorado drivers occasionally find other pertinent times to schedule inspections. They might do this when they’re concerned about new noises or minor changes in performance. A few companies require independent contractors to have their vehicles inspected. Rather than waiting for a special occasion, some people simply choose to arrange inspections every year or two. Drivers can obtain this service from shops that perform auto repair in Longmont, Denver, Pueblo and other cities.

Transmission Services can Prolong the Life of a Vehicle

Taking the time for an oil change every 3,000 miles is second nature to most car owners. Many conscientious drivers do not consider regular transmission maintenance though. The transmission, like the engine, needs periodic services to keep it running reliably and to prolong its mileage.

How to Prolong the Life of a Transmission

Aside from regular transmission services the life of a transmission can be prolonged through certain habits. First off, never shift into park or reverse until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. The area where the car is parked should be checked for signs of fluid leakage on the ground. Catching a leak and therefor low levels of fluid can stop a transmission from attempting to run on low to now fluid and being permanently damaged. And transmission should never be used for braking. These driving habits can add life to a vehicle and prolong the need for a transmission rebuild or replacement.

How Often Should a Vehicle Receive Transmission Services?

The periodic transmission services for most vehicles is based on mileage more than a set time period much like oil changes for the engine. The transmission fluid should be changed either every 15,000 miles or one time a year, although some newer vehicles come with a manufacture’s guide that increases the time to 36,000 miles or three years. The older the vehicle the more frequent services it will need. Fluid changing services take about an hour and a half to complete and can add years to a transmission and reduce the risk of a driver being stranded by sudden problems.

There are other services that should be scheduled regularly to keep the vehicle running smooth for as long as possible. These include tire rotation and alignment, transmission flushing, computer check-ups of the engine and before trip check ups.  A bit of prevention can literally save a driver thousands and keep them safer on the road.  A wise driver can find a trusted source for auto repair in Longmont and begin a long-term relationship with an expert mechanic to ensure the longest life possible for their vehicle.

Auto Electric Service Solves Those Mystery Car Problems

One of the most important aspects of a car is almost completely invisible to drivers until the day it stops working right. That’s the car’s internal electrical system. It powers and controls things like ignition, timing, engine air intake, the activation of the anti-lock braking system, and more. These functions are subject to everything from sensor feedback to basic electrodynamics.

When part of this system fails, it can sometimes cause bewildering symptoms. The car may shut down for no apparent reason, start missing, display error lights, run too rich or lean, and more. Simply looking under the hood will often reveal nothing. This is because many auto electric problems now originate in the computer or the sensors it uses to determine how to operate rather than in the mechanical parts.

Because of this, providers of auto repair in Longmont have much more experience dealing with internal auto electrical systems than was once the norm. All-service garages have a variety of meters and code readers that help them track problems down so they can fix them without sending the customer to a specialist. Here are some of the things that can end up being diagnosed as electrical or computer system problems:

The Car Won’t Crank

Mechanics will check the obvious things first. In this case, those items will be the battery and the starter. If they test fine, then it’s time to look at electrical controllers like the safety switch that keeps a car from starting while it’s in gear. Interlocked alarm systems may also need to be tested.

The Car Cranks, But Won’t Start

Electrical problems involving fuel delivery are some things that can cause this problem. In modern vehicles, sensors direct the car’s computer to send a specified amount of fuel through the fuel pump and the fuel injector. A failure of one or more sensors or any connecting wires will interfere with the car’s ability to get the right amount of gas to the engine.

The Car Runs Strangely for No Apparent Reason

This is often a sensor problem. If the faulty sensor sends an error code to the computer, repairing it may be easy. When no error codes are present, it will take an experienced mechanic to pin it down.

Take a car in for an electrical check whenever it seems to be acting up for “no reason.” Chances are that the auto electric tech will find out what’s going on.

Is a Specialist Needed for Transmission Repair?

Many people believe that they need to go to a specialist to get transmission work done. While it’s true that not every general shop can handle the big jobs, there are some providers of auto repair in Longmont who can take care of everything. Here are a couple of the transmission-related services such a shop may offer:

Fluid Flush

These aren’t needed for healthy transmissions more than perhaps once every 100,000 or 150,000 miles. Each car’s owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s specifications for that particular make and model. Unhealthy transmissions, on the other hand, can end up with burnt fluid or fluid that’s been contaminated with metal shavings.

It can be tempting to have the fluid changed when bad fluid is seen on the transmission dipstick, but this isn’t a real solution. That’s because flushing the fluid doesn’t get rid of the underlying problem. The proper sequence of repairs is to fix the problem first and only then put the new fluid in.

Transmission Rebuilding or Replacement

This is what takes care of the actual repair. With rebuilding, the existing transmission is removed and taken apart. The damaged internal parts are replaced with new ones while the ones that are still good are kept. Then, new seals are installed and the unit is reassembled. This is a lot of work, so it can take several days for a busy shop to get the job done.

Transmission replacement doesn’t involve installing a truly new unit. Instead, the shop uses one that was rebuilt at some prior time. The pre-rebuilt one may have been worked on by the shop, but it’s more common for general mechanics to buy them in from large rebuilding companies. Either way, using one that was already rebuilt is a time saver for customers. All the mechanic has to do is take out the old unit and install the new one. Despite this, the price is usually about the same because the rebuilding work did have to be done at some point.

Other Transmission Services

The other main service offered is diagnostics. Some other car problems that seem to point to the transmission are actually caused by other things. This makes it a good idea to test and make sure that the transmission is really at fault.

If a car has been acting up, it’s a good idea to stop by an all-service garage before seeing any specialists. The general garage will likely offer better prices and a faster turnaround time.

Auto Repair in Longmont Keeps Vehicles Running Smoothly

The United States is a country that relies heavily on its motor vehicles. Not only is owning a car a sign of independence, it is also often a necessity as people move to faraway states for school, work or other life adventures. Keeping their vehicles in the best running condition possible is crucial when it comes to maintaining important ties to people far and wide.

Regular Car Inspections are Vital

Vehicles, much like people, need to have regular checkups, too, to check for changes that could become dangerous. By scheduling these regular car inspections, auto repairs in Longmont can be completed at those intervals that best meet the needs of the vehicle owner. Car inspections provide repair service personnel with the opportunity to catch small problems before they balloon into larger, and likely more costly, ones. In many cases, these small problems do not carry the same sense of urgency that larger ones present. This allows a car owner to line up alternate transportation instead of being suddenly without their vehicle at a crucial time.

Adhere to Manufacturer Recommendations

All car manufacturers maintain a list of recommendations times when certain services should be completed. For example, the oil and filter should be changed in a vehicle at prescribed mileage milestones under normal driving conditions. Doing so helps ensure that the engine lasts longer. Abnormal driving conditions, such as extensive stop and go city traffic or driving on dusty streets on a regular basis, should probably result in more frequent oil changes.

Gradual Changes Can Lead to Larger Problems

During a car inspection, a trained auto mechanic goes over the vehicle closely, looking for items that are not quite as they should be. Some things can happen so gradually that it is difficult for the average car owner to pinpoint them without professional guidance. For example, changes in the way a vehicle rides could be attributed to several different causes that, left unchecked, could result in the car becoming more difficult to control. In addition, as wear and tear continue on the worn vehicle part, it could start to affect other nearby parts. This could make the repairs more complicated and expensive.

Be Prepared for the Three Main Types of Auto Repairs

Auto repair in Longmont tends to fall into one of three categories. There are standard repairs, old-car repairs, and total surprises. Knowing a bit about each category helps car owners be prepared for most of them, and having a good repair shop in advance is a great help when it comes to the third type.

Standard Repairs

Some car parts are made with aspects that are meant to wear out with use, so their repair can be budgeted for in advance. The brakes are the most notable of these thanks to the fact that the pads or shoes incur wear every time they do their jobs. In fact, the brakes wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for the friction – and resulting wear to the pads – that occurs every time the pedal is pressed.

Tires are also parts that wear out with use and wouldn’t be much good if they didn’t. As with the brakes, it’s the friction that occurs with normal operation that causes this effect. Without friction, tires would gain no traction and the wheels would just spin in futility.

Once a car is old enough, the exhaust system will also need repair or replacement. Unlike the other parts, this system isn’t subjected to friction. Instead, corrosion will be what eventually causes it to leak.

Old-Car Repairs

Friction comes back into play when a car has over 50,000 miles on it. Somewhere between that point and 100,000 miles, the ball joints, tie rod ends, wheel bearings, and other such parts will begin to wear out. Even though these parts are typically greased with each oil change, the constant turning will take its toll. While the principles of these repairs is usually simple, they’re on the expensive side. Fortunately, these problems almost always give out warning signals prior to catastrophic failure, so it’s possible to budget for them.

Surprises

Surprise breakdowns can happen at any time, but are more likely as a car gets more years or miles under its belt. Fuel pumps, water pumps, hoses, and electrical systems tend to just suddenly stop working or “blow” with no prior warning. Because of the correlation with car age, owners of older cars should definitely find a trustworthy auto shop before these things occur. It’s also a great idea to have a membership with a large 24/7 road service provider that allows cars to be towed to the garage of choice at no out-of-pocket cost.

Top Methods for Diagnosing Car Problems

When a car isn’t working right, the first step is to figure out what’s wrong with it. This can be easy for someone with prior experience with the problem, but in many cases, it requires the help of an expert in vehicle diagnostic in Longmont. The expert has experience with many more types of problems than a single car owner will typically encounter. He or she also has tools to help diagnose issues that don’t have immediately obvious causes. Here are some of the methods that are used to pin down the causes of car problems:

Listening to the Customer

While this shouldn’t be the final step in a diagnostic operation, it’s a huge first step. If someone comes into a shop and says “the brakes are grinding,” the person is probably right. Even so, the technician should take the wheel off and physically check the brakes to be sure. This is because a few things can make the wheel area grind, and the mechanic has no way of knowing how much experience the customer has with such problems. Directly checking will ensure that no unnecessary work is performed. The same principles apply to any other reported problem.

Taking a Test Drive

Often, customer reports aren’t specific enough to even nail down a specific area of the car. It may be said that there’s a knock coming from “underneath somewhere” or that the car “lags a bit.” In these cases, the best way to find out what’s really going on is to take the car for a spin under the conditions reported by the customer. This direct experience will let an experienced mechanic know what’s actually happening.

Using Computer Diagnostics

Despite the popularity of computers, this technique is actually of limited use. Most cars, at least most older ones, don’t have the sensors needed to effectively pick up common mechanical issues. Therefore, skilled mechanics will use them as adjuncts rather than a front-line diagnostic tool.

Experience

This is what separates the person who just got his mechanic’s license from the true professional. It makes it possible for some practitioners to know exactly what’s wrong as soon as a car is turned on, find problems even when all the quick tools say there aren’t any, and generally spare customers from frustration. It’s always a good idea to get someone with plenty of experience to do auto repair in Longmont, but it’s even more important when intensive diagnostics are required.

Easy, Effective Ways to Save Money on Auto Repairs

Car problems never come at a convenient time; in fact, there’s never really a “good time” to run into car troubles. And depending on the nature of the necessary repair, auto repair expenses could easily range between hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Fortunately, for those who are budget-savvy, there are some steps that can be taken to save money on any auto repair.

Shop Aftermarket or Used Parts

One option that could save car owners a significant amount of money is to shop for used or aftermarket parts, as opposed to new, original manufacturer’s parts. A lot of times, aftermarket parts are made to the same rigorous standards as manufacturer parts are, but cost just a fraction of the price. Furthermore, for older cars, going with a used part may be a better option, especially for those who are just looking for a temporary and cheap repair until they’re able to purchase a new car or trade in their old one.

Take Advantage of Promotions

Another viable means of saving money on auto repair in the Longmont area is that is taking advantage of all the discounts, savings, and promotions that an auto repair shop has to offer. For example, many auto repair companies will post special promotions on social media or allow first-time customers to save a certain percentage or dollar amount off of their first repair service. On the other hand, some auto repair shops may also offer discounts to those who belong in certain groups, such as auto insurance groups or something similar.

Consider a DIY Repair

Finally, depending on the nature of the repair that needs to be done, it may be worth it to consider learning how to perform the repair on one’s own. Of course, this isn’t recommended for complex repairs, but for minor repairs like spark plug replacement or a leak repair, it shouldn’t be too difficult to perform this without the help of a professional. There are all kinds of great online tutorials that may help walk one through the process.

Overall, there are lots of ways to go about potentially saving money on a needed auto repair. By taking the time to follow these steps, it is possible for any car owner to cut back on a repair bill without having to sacrifice the quality of the repair in the process.

Why Are Oil Changes the Most Important Type of Auto Repair in Longmont?

Like blood for humans, oil is the life of the vehicle. Vehicles rely on oil to perform several different and vital tasks. When it comes to the different types of auto repair in Longmont, oil changes are undoubtedly the most simple but important. Fresh oil is necessary to get the most life from the engine and keep the vehicle performing optimally.The following information explains a few of the top reasons why oil changes are the most important type of auto repair in Longmont.

New Oil

When a vehicle has an oil change, new oil replaces the old oil. It’s important to have fresh, nutrient-rich oil to perform several different functions within the engine and vehicle. Some of the most common functions of oil are:

Lubrication

Whether the oil is natural or synthetic, one of the main jobs of the oil is to lubricate countless moving parts. However, over time, the oil will break down and lose its ability to lubricate as well. This is a natural process and typically happens every 3,500 to 5,000 miles or every three months. As a result, it’s imperative to have regular oil changes and auto repair in Longmont.

Cleaner

Engine oil is designed to carry debris and pollutants away from from the oil galleys and the crank case. In addition, oil includes a detergent that is designed to keep those various internal moving parts clean. Over time, oil becomes polluted and its cleaning ability is deteriorated, which is why it’s necessary to have the oil replaced.

Coolant

In addition to being a lubricant and cleaner, oil is also a coolant. As the oil circulates through the engine, it pulls heat away from the moving parts and reduces the friction caused by engine parts.

New Oil Filter

In addition to replacing the old oil with new oil, every oil change also includes a new oil filter. The oil filter is designed to sift out debris and other pollutants from the oil. If these pollutants and debris is allowed to build up in the filter, it will clog the filter and cause the entire system to perform less efficiently. The oil filter is changed with each oil change to make sure the engine is operating as efficiently as possible.